The New York Times on food deserts Much obesity policy has been centered on food deserts -- neighborhoods, generally poorer, where fruits and vegetables are difficult to obtain -- but is that focus misplaced? A pair of new studies suggest that it is. "Such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too," writes Gina Kolata for The Times. "And there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents."
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Al Jazeera on the deformities of Gulf's critters The ecological distaster that was the oil spill has outdone even The Simpsons. At its two-year anniversary, there's renewed media focus on the BP oil spill this month. And today, Al Jazeera files a stomach-churner on the oil-induced mutations the Gulf crawling and swimming creatures are undergoing. "Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp." And that's the news network's Dahr Jamail just getting started. Shrimps gills' are oil-clogged (above) while others are laden with tumors; crabs' shells have holes in them... No reports yet on three-eye fish, which would just make the likeness to Blinky too perfect. Scientists find fault in a host of toxins introduced into the ocean not only from the Deepwater Horizon oil, but also in the solvent used to clean it up.
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The Washington Post on America's waning love for gas "Are American motorists finally changing their gas-guzzling ways?" asks Steven Mufson. Yes, Americans have cut their gas consumption to a decade low as prices top $4 per gallon, but Mufson argues that the short-term strain at the pump is just reenforcing a long-term trend of fuel efficiency. "Even before the latest price spike, gasoline consumption had dropped 6 percent from 2007 through 2011," writes Mufson. Even if sales of hybrids and electrics are slumping, fuel-efficient gas-powered cars currently having a moment, preparing of a future less dependent on gasoline. Whether Americans are adjusting their gas habits in response to the brute economics of high prices and as some environmental do-goodery, we can't say. But in any case, the skies are the better for it.
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The Los Angeles Times on Japan's ambivalence on nuclear Japan is in a bit of conundrum, post-Fukushima. On the one hand, the public, understandably, is very skeptical of nuclear energy: nearly 80 percent want nuclear eventually gone for good, reports the Los Angeles Times' Carol J. Williams. But that ignores some economic realities. Energy companies, now reliant on imported fossil fuels, are warning that power bills will double if the nation's reactors are kept offline much longer. And that's not to mention the permanent job losses that would come with shuttering nuclear plants for good.
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The New York Times the public's perception of global warming Largely, the scientific jury is still out on the connection. But the lay public doesn't quite need the the rigor of science to come to its own conclusions. "A poll due for release on Wednesday shows that a large majority of Americans believe that this year’s unusually warm winter, last year’s blistering summer and some other weather disasters were probably made worse by global warming," reports Justin Gills for The Times. 69 percent said that global warming is affecting weather in the U.S., and the sense among surveyors is that the public, faced with inclement weather, no longer view global warming as only a distant threat. For what it's worth, the connection between global warming and our warm winter might not be all the tenuous. According to a recent U.N. report, while scientists aren't confident in connecting climate change with our spate of tornadoes and hurricanes, the "panel found that it was likely that man-made carbon emissions are leading to extreme heat," according to Time.
- Nature & Environment